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The Library Inferno

03 Apr

This encounter is intended for five characters of 2nd level

Again, this comes from a now defunct ongoing D&D game I ran a while back. I’m purposefully extricating any of the campaign specific bits to make this encounter easier to adapt – and the map took some reconstruction but it should hold up.

Purpose
The heroes are seeking some piece of knowledge (be it a book, scroll, etc.) stashed away in a small library inside some relatively civilized area: perhaps a city but more likely some count or duke’s own castle. When I ran this encounter I had the PC’s returning after having set the librarian to the task of digging up and translating a few works for them – and I’d recommend a similar approach to add a little pathos to the situation. When they return they find several barbarians and their leader; a wizard wearing an iron mask, in the process of burning down the library to destroy anything the PCs might be seeking. The group’s allegiance is up to you and they just as well might be local mercenaries for hire.

Map

20120328-210316.jpg

Features

Bookshelves – The long heavy bookshelves can be pushed down onto opponents on the other side, pinning them to the ground until they can muscle or wriggle free. The chest high bookshelf running down the middle of the room can’t be used to pin targets like the big bookshelves can, but it can be used as partial cover.

  • Pushing over a large bookshelf: Standard action – Moderate Athletics roll – all squares adjacent to the bookshelf on the opposite side of the pushing character are effected. All creatures effected are knocked prone, restrained, and take 1d8 damage. Following the attack, all effected squares are made rough terrain
  • Pulling down a small bookshelf: The same action and results as a large bookcase, but only the creature directly in front of the bookcase is targeted
  • Crawling out from under a bookcase: Make an escape check with either Athletics or Acrobatics, using a moderate DC. As a move action, an ally can aid another on this check. Remember that after escaping the creature is still prone.

Inferno – Each round on initiative 0, the fires raging in the library spread. A creature that begins its turn in or enters a square of fire takes 1d6 fire damage

  • Roll 1d8 for each square currently on fire to determine which adjacent square it spreads to: 1 = north, 2 = north east, 3 = east, etc. After round 2 this might get tedious, in which case you can simply roll for the two newest fire squares per clump. If your scatter roll would place the fire in a square where the blaze is already present then nothing happens.
Windows – Sections of wall with a blue bar in them contain windows. Each window is barely big enough for a good sized humanoid male to fit through. Squeezing through the window takes four squares of movement. Leaping through a window takes an Acrobatics Moderate check and requires only one square of movement

Large Table – The table in the northeast corner is strewn with books and papers. If your PCs here are for a specific tome or scroll that is located here. If the heroes neglect to retrieve it then it will be lost with the building

Plot Text
You can see the thin trails of smoke from halfway across the courtyard. There’s a fire in the library and if the smoke is any indicator, it’s getting bigger quick. As you burst through the door it’s obvious the place is in disarray: books are strewn on the ground, some with pages ripped haphazardly from their spines, the smell of burning vellum assails your nose. “What were they looking for!” demands a voice, slightly muffled. The librarian, a sweet older woman of slight frame, begs almost incoherently through her tears to be spared. A number of human men, their arms corded with thick muscle, their faces concealed behind heavy metal helms are setting fire to piles of books with torches. At the sound of your footfalls the man who was terrorizing the librarian steps into view. The ornate golden mask reflects no emotion; though the dark silken robes he wears send a clear enough message: he’s a wizard of some obscure order. “We have intruders!” he calls to his companions. “Kill them!”

Monster Stats

Tactics
As usual for brutes, the Barbarians will close to melee quickly and try to lock down other melee opponents. The Harriers will maneuver around behind and attempt to flank opponents. If any of the Barbarians or Harriers is in a position to hit two PCs by pushing over a bookshelf he will attempt it once.

Meanwhile, the Pyromancer hangs back, using his area attack in the first round and moving it into clumps of PCs, and thereafter firing off his ranged attack. He flees behind bookshelves for cover to avoid charging PCs and ranged attack.

Special Considerations
Rescuing Books – Some of your nerdier PCs might risk life and limb to save some of the books in the library. Scooping up a pile of books is a move action. Dumping them out a window or out the door is a free action. If the players do so, consider using the following incremental reward system per load of books saved:

    • 1 Pile – 30 exp for each player for their heroism
    • 2 Piles – 20 gp per player for having saved some rare and valuable books
    • 3 Piles – An additional 20 exp and 10 gp
    • 4 Piles – A ritual of the average player level + 1
    • 5 Piles -The PCs save a very rare and insightful tome. If they spend 3 days reading from it, they gain a permanent +1 Miscellaneous bonus to the Nature, Arcana, or History skill (your choice)

The Librarian The librarian is hardly an able combatant but is paralyzed by fear of both the barbarians and the blaze. If the players rescue her, grant them an exp bonus equal to a monster of their average level -1. She otherwise cowers in the corner, and will attempt to escape through a window if an opening presents itself.

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One response to “The Library Inferno

  1. theyoungking45

    May 20, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Got some feedback on this encounter that was posted elsewhere and wanted to share it right here – so what follows is the repost (Riposte!):

    “OK, here’s the report: it was an excellent encounter and really drained my party down to their last resources. They’re very divine and control-ly, so they relished the chance to knock the baddies over (and in one case, through) the book cases. They couldn’t handle the bottle-neck of the front entrance well(not very adventurous with the windows) and my barbarians couldn’t roll for $hit, but the pyromancer truly shined. He was a hated foe and I nearly killed Dani’s monk with ongoing fire. Twice.”

    Given this info, I’d recommend expanding the front door by an additional square (Really wide double doors) to avoid the problem of a crunch right at the entrance. That might be a little TOO much tactical advantage for the Pyromancer.

     

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